Highlights from College Gap Year Survey

As those of you who follow us regularly know, Gap Year Solutions likes data. Recently, we have been looking at how many students took a Gap Year starting in fall 2020, and how much this has grown from prior years. In this post, we share data from a recent college survey we conducted which continues to refine and give a more accurate picture of Gap Year deferrals this year. It also sheds some light on how colleges are approaching Gap Years for the incoming Class of 2025.

  1. 22 schools responded to our survey. When combined with deferral data from other sources, we calculate the percentage of students admitted to the Class of 2024 who deferred as 6.8% of the target first year class at these schools. This supports numbers we’ve previously published, and leads us to estimate Class of 2024 deferrals at between 6-7% of admitted students. Click here to access the full list of schools and their deferral data.
  2. Generally, we note that the schools with the highest deferral rate were also those that moved to 100% remote instruction for fall 2021.
  3. It is fascinating to note that schools in the same cities often adopted quite different approaches to welcoming first year students to campus for fall 2021 – which was then reflected in their Gap Year deferral rates. For example, Boston College (1.7% of admitted students deferred) brought students back to campus, while Harvard (20.0%) and MIT (5.1%) both had first years learning remotely. (MIT’s rate, though lower than Harvard’s, was still 7x a typical year for MIT.) Yale (26.2%) kept students away from campus, while University of New Haven (5.2%) brought them back.
  4. With one exception, every school responding to our survey indicated that their policy for Gap Year deferrals for the Class of 2025 will be the same as last year. Typical answers: “no change”, “same as usual”, “very similar to years before.” The one exception was Elon, which said that it may limit the number that it approves.
  5. Several schools volunteered that they took the opportunity to improve their approach to deferrals, based on the enormous growth in the volume of requests they handled:
    • Aquinas College: “No substantial change in plan other than increased communication from the College.”
    • Washington University in St. Louis: “We created a standardized request process through a form and added a deadline for requests in the summer.”
    • Loyola University Chicago: “Given the number we saw defer this past fall, we are reviewing our process to make it more seamless for students.”

It remains to be seen whether Gap Year numbers will remain permanently at the new higher levels. For now, we are telling families inquiring about our services that if you want to be as sure as possible of a “normal” start to college (on campus living, in-person classes, regular student activities and social interaction, athletics), it would be wise to take a Gap Year and wait for the fall of 2022.

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